California lawmakers expand budget to help some out-of-state residents travel for abortions

Lawmakers and Gov. Newsom have vowed to expand abortion access after Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Updated: August 30, 2022 - 11:57pm

California lawmakers could soon send a budget bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom that would allow the state’s abortion fund to assist some out-of-state residents seeking abortion access in California.

The measure, contained in a health omnibus bill, would administer grants from the state’s Abortion Practical Support Fund to nonprofit organizations that specialize in assisting low-income abortion patients trying to obtain their services. The bill specifies that the funds can be used for certain expenses, including “practical support” services – defined in the bill as “financial or in-kind” assistance to help a patient obtain an abortion in California.

The budget trailer bill comes as California lawmakers and Newsom have vowed to expand abortion access as other states are increasing restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

If the bill is passed, California will spend some of the $20 million set aside in the state budget for the Abortion Practical Support Fund to help pregnant residents of other states pay for travel expenses to obtain an abortion in California. In the state budget signed by Newsom in June, money in the fund was restricted to help only California residents, not those traveling from other states, as previously reported by the Associated Press.

That changes, however, under updates made in the health omnibus bill. The updated language in the bill “provides flexibility to address issues of both in-state and out-of-state travel” to obtain an abortion, Department of Finance Spokesperson HD Palmer told The Center Square in an email.

“The intent of the updated language in the health trailer bill is not to restrict any services previously provided, but to broaden the types of services needed to support a woman’s right to choose, such as dependent childcare, translation services, travel assistance and other support services,” Palmer wrote.

On top of expanding the use of abortion funds for out-of-state travel, the health omnibus bill also authorizes the Department of Health Care Services to offer $1,000 retention payments to clinic workers in California, who often provide primary care and preventative care for low-income populations across the state. The measure also eliminates copayments for the state’s 14 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

The bill is part of a 13-bill budget package lawmakers are aiming to pass by Wednesday’s legislative deadline. Senate lawmakers passed the 13 budget bills on Tuesday, sending them to the Assembly for final approval before they are sent to Newsom.

The other budget bills include measures to expand COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave through December, establish the Worker’s Tax Credit in 2024 and establish a program to offer grants to certain small agricultural operations impacted by California’s ongoing drought.

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